Unanimous Council decision wards off legal action - Mayor urges province-wide

SARNIA and TORONTO, April 13 /CNW/ - On Monday, April 12 Sarnia City Council enacted new by-laws to ensure people with disabilities do not face additional barriers in securing supported housing.

Mayor Mike Bradley commented, "Arbitrary restrictions on group homes are discriminatory and have nothing to do with planning and everything to do with negative stereotypes about disabled people. I would like to see the government prescribe regulations to supersede all such by-laws across Ontario."

The revised by-laws ensure that homes for people with disabilities will be treated equally with similar dwellings. Sarnia City Council had moved to change the by-laws in advance of human rights applications launched against four municipalities in Ontario: Toronto, Kitchener, Smiths Falls and Sarnia. Brian Knott, City Solicitor for the City of Sarnia said "Council's decision ensures we are in compliance with Ontario's Human Rights Code and its protections for people with disabilities as they search for desperately needed housing."

While zoning by-laws relating to supported housing vary from municipality to municipality, they generally contain language prohibiting people from living in certain neighbourhoods or being close to other residences offering support.

Kathy Laird, Executive Director of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre and lead counsel on the case against the four municipalities said "We are thrilled that the City of Sarnia has taken this action and are grateful to the City's staff, Mayor Bradley and Council. We'd like to see province-wide action to expand the range of housing stock that is needed, particularly for low-income people with disabilities."

SOURCE Human Rights Legal Support Centre

For further information: For further information: Jennifer Ramsay, Human Rights Legal Support Centre, (416) 326-7253, mobile: (416) 522-5931; Brian Knott, City Solicitor, City of Sarnia, (519) 332-0330 x262

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